I'm So Tired

I just can?t seem to get a good night?s sleep, and I feel tired almost all the time. I go to bed feeling tired, but I just lie there. And even once I fall asleep, I keep waking up throughout the night. What can I do?

You could be menopausal or depressed or have fibromyalgia (a condition of painful muscles, fatigue, and nonrestorative sleep). Or you could have a sleep disorder (in which your brain gets mixed up about how to go to sleep and stay that way). Or you might have sleep apnea (a condition that causes you to be sleepy all day because you can?t sleep at night; you keep waking yourself up from not breathing right?or not breathing at all?for several seconds, hundreds of times a night). Each possibility has other symptoms that will help you and your doctor figure it out, so your best bet is to visit your family doctor.
My general advice for you is to exercise moderately (not too late in the evening); breathe plenty of fresh air (to clear out carbon dioxide that builds up); get enough sunlight during the day and keep it dark at night (to regulate melatonin production); get up at the same time every day (to keep your wake-up center set right); and eat a good breakfast (to signal your system that your day is starting?bedtime begins at breakfast!). At the same time avoid late meals and caffeine or alcohol (they really disrupt your natural sleep cycle); avoid sleep medications (because they wreck your whole sleep-wake cycle); and drink plenty of water in the day (to fight fatigue).

Helene Hubbard graduated second in her medical school class at East Tennessee State University. She interned in family practice at Florida Hospital and was in the first group ever to be board-certified in developmental-behavioral pediatrics. She holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology and has a medical practice in Florida.

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